How ’bout this for Command No. 1 at the LIRR’s new state-of-the-art Command and Control Center?
Unplanned conflagrations like the one that knocked out a 1913 switching room at Jamaica station can be truly catastrophic. Nearly a week after Monday’s cable fire, train service still isn’t what it’s supposed to be.
But there is hope, and it doesn’t spring entirely from that frantic patch job by LIRR old-timers, brilliant though they are in their own make-do way. The long-term solution – beyond “Don’t catch fire!” – involves moving beyond the pre-World War I technology and into railroading’s modern age.
Yes, there is such a thing. It’s just that, compared to Europe and Asia, we’ve been painfully slow in getting there.
During an extremely tough week, LIRR officials took time out to unveil their computerized command center of the future. It’s gleaming, and it sounds very cool. No more manual levers. No more pre-computer-age systems. No more it’s-all-in-the-old-timers’-heads.
The new system ought to give the railroad’s supervisors far more real-time information about how the service is running and what can be done to improve it. This should make a ‘rail-life’ difference in avoiding rush-hour backups and anticipating maddening bottlenecks.
The new technology should be online by early November. The system should be more transparent to the techies and easier to fix when something breaks.
But one thing won’t change: Even with a sparkling new Command and Control Center, the nation’s largest commuter line will still have to depend on cables, switches, relays and other infrastructure that are 40, 50, 60 years old or older. With a $900 million budget gap, how soon can all that stuff possibly be replaced?
No, the past isn’t just prologue at the Long Island Rail Road. The past will be around for a good long time.
4. Another 300,000 cars on the road?
5. Just stay home?
ASKED AND UNANSWERED:
Is that a business office or a lifeguard-changing room at MLK Park in Freeport? Come on, who’d install a camera just to watch people type?…Does a transvestite robber really need to wear a disguise? Folks at C&R Stationery in Lynbrook are still wondering…Agony or Ecstasy at the Phish concert? What made Luke Duplessis do a swan dive from the upper tier at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater?…A nun with a gun? After her bad-habit display in “Machete,” what role is next in the typecasting of Lindsay Lohan? Family therapist? Abstinence counselor?…Why did someone steal a woman’s body from St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale? After 12 years in the ground, it couldn’t be a beauty thing…Matthew Ireland, 16, was arrested in Mattituck for drunk-driving at 4 o’clock in the morning. What? His 14-year-old passenger gets no credit for using a designated driver?…Not that they deserve to be a robbed at gunpoint, of course – but what were all those people doing in a Valley Stream garage at 1:30 in the morning? A moonlit oil change?….After being so tight-fisted with big-thinking Lighthouse developer Charles Wang, now Ed Mangano wanted to use taxpayer-financed bonds to renovate the Nassau Coliseum?…Why shouldn’t Central Time Zone rock the house at Fuzzy’s in Jamaica? Who cares that the guys have straight jobs now or that the band hasn’t performed in 15 years? Haven’t you heard? Rock-’n’-roll never dies!
ELLIS’ LONG ISLANDERS OF THE WEEK
Weeks like these remind us: Life would be a whole lot tougher around here without the Long Island Rail Road. Monday evening’s meltdown certainly proved that. Then, we were forced to learn the lesson over and over again. When one day turned into five – and service only inched back to life – it was the riders who rose to the unhappy occasion. Not by choice, we coped. Shrewdly. Tolerantly. With far more aplomb than any had a right to expect. It was a mess. We survived. It must never happen again.
Category: In Print